Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tell us the truth, mining community tells State

Tell us the truth, mining community tells State - 3/19/2009
Sai Comment:
- Who is surprise at this dishonest act by the intetrim regime?? It is sad but what can you expect from a regime that ursurped power at the point of the gun! They can't be expected to be honest, starting from the reasons for the coup to promises for help to citizens such as the mining community. Now that Voreqe is the Minister of Finance, he will be hoping he could keep disgruntled military people with similar promises of pay increases etc.. No wonder they're keen to raid the FNPF to fund their bloated expenditure in unproductive areas such as having a large military that does not contribute an ounce to the national economic output or GDP! Begs why ever needed a military as I have argued eslsewhere, because it is simply unproductive expenditure, except perhaps the engineering arm of the military, but only when the private sector is unable to fully meet infrastruture development needs. The word then for Fiji is - prepare for more broken promises of assistance in the current onslaught of the global crisis by a regime that is only bent on its survival in order to avoid their just fate when power returns to the people of Fiji.

The Vatukoula mining community is still waiting for the $6million rehabilitation fund that was promised to them three years ago. Community representative Salote Marama yesterday called on the Interim Government to tell them the truth since the people have been suffering for so long.

“We urge the interim government to be honest,” she said. “They need to tell us if there is money to help the people or not. Every day I’ve got people on my doorsteps asking about the money which was promised to them.”

Ms Marama said there are many problems and challenges faced by many families in Vatukoula.

“Kids are not going to school since their parents simply can’t afford to pay their fees and it’s hard to put food on the table in time like this. “You have to come to see it yourself and hear from the people.”

Ms Marama said the Vatukoula tragedy has taken its toll on the people. “Government must act now to realise a sustainable resolution and rehabilitation process, a process which should also be led and owned by the people of Vatukoula.

“We cannot be fooled around by government and the mining company and we are calling them to be honest since the people deserve to know the truth on that promised royalty”

Vatukoula community consultative committee spokesman Ponipate Ravula said things have not changed much since then.

He said government and mining company have been hopelessly silent on the Vatukoula issue and the media is their only hope to highlight their plight.

“There is still no movement with the $6 million rehab fund, no resolution of outstanding payments to workers, no resolution of land claims, no resolution of injury compensation claims,” said Mr Ravula.

“We urges the interim government to amend the Rehabilitation and Social Assistance Deed signed by former Interim Lands minister Tevita Vuibau on behalf of the Fiji Government and Westech in August 2007 to ensure that the immediate resolution of all outstanding company obligations to the people and environment of Vatukoula be important components of the revised deed,” he added.

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